Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Red Eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans
I haven't been alive long enough to remember the grass green, quarter sized turtles that used to be sold at "five and dime stores." Larger juvenile and adult sizes of these turtles are still sold today at pet shops. Over the years, thousands if not millions have been released into the wild, and almost everywhere I go, I see a red eared slider. In Ohio, it is thought that we may have had some northern populations disjunct from its typical native North American range in the Mississippi River system, but now, you can see them in many lakes and rivers across the state. Other countries, and some states, like California, consider them an invasive species. I've not read anything that suggests they are reproducing in Ohio, or if they are outcompeting native species for food and basking spots, but they are definitely present here in central Ohio.
I was inspired to do this writeup after seeing a dozen or so sliders in Manhattan's Morningside park, then this past Saturday, I observed and photographed a large individual in the Olentangy River. Then on Sunday, Megan I saw another slider at Slate Run Metropark.
Manhattan is a long way away from the Mississippi drainage, but this pond at Morningside Park was full of red eared sliders
And here is yet another slider from Slate Run Metropark, just south of Columbus. I'm guessing this one was "dumped" into this small pond, just off the parking lot, by someone that just didn't want the hassle of keeping a pet turtle. The giveaway is its shell. When turtles are raised in the wild, their shells grow very smoothly and don't have any "pyramiding" on their shell. Look closely at this turtle's shell, and you can see how each scute (section of the shell) is raised somewhat.
I guess the point here is to really think hard before you consider purchasing a red eared slider as a pet. There are plenty out there to adopt, and please, don't release these animals into the wild. They are now considered an invasive species in Europe, Asia, and Australia!